Life After Confederation

Despite his key role in Confederation, George lost in the first elections held for the new Dominion of Canada, and never sat in the House of Commons. Yet George remained active in public life: he became a senator in 1873, and the following year he travelled to Washington, D.C. to represent Canada in trade talks with the United States. The Browns also hosted numerous engagements with dignitaries. 

Letter from Richard Pope to George Brown, 26 December 1873
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Letter from Richard Pope to George Brown,
26 December 1873
George Brown family fonds
F 21-1-4-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-1-4-1_001

President Ulysses S. Grant’s dinner invitation to George and Anne Brown, 8 April 1874
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President Ulysses S. Grant’s dinner invitation to George and Anne Brown, 8 April 1874
George Brown family fonds
F 21-1-5-2
Archives of Ontario, F21-1-5-2_001

Dinner menu at Bow Park, Brantford, for Governor General Lord Dufferin, 25 August 1874
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Dinner menu at Bow Park, Brantford, for Governor General Lord Dufferin,
25 August 1874
George Brown family fonds
F 21-8-0-3
Archives of Ontario, I0073497

George now had more time to invest in his business interests, like his cattle breeding enterprise at Bow Park, the family country residence outside Brantford.

Catalogue of the Bow Park Herd of Thoroughbred Shorthorns, the Property of Hon. George Brown, Bow Park, Canada, 1875
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Catalogue of the Bow Park Herd of Thoroughbred Shorthorns, the Property of Hon. George Brown, Bow Park, Canada, 1875
PAMPH 1875 #51
Archives of Ontario Library Collection, I0073533


“Views of Brantford” stereoscopic photograph, ca. 1870s
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“Views of Brantford” stereoscopic photograph,
ca. 1870s
Brown family’s Bow Park country residence, Brantford
George Brown family fonds
F 21-10-0-6
Archives of Ontario, I0073637

On March 25, 1880, tragedy hit the Brown family. That day, a former Globe employee shot George Brown following a disagreement. Although many expected George would survive, his wound became infected. He died on May 9 at the age of 61.

“Attempted Assassination of Hon. Geo Brown. Toronto”
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“Attempted Assassination of Hon. Geo Brown. Toronto”
Canadian Illustrated News, 10 April 1880
Archives of Ontario Library Collection, I0073697

Archival records show the public and private ways people passed on their condolences to the Brown family.

Resolution from the Assembly of Coloured Citizens of Toronto, Victoria and Queen Street Baptist Church, 11 May 1880
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Resolution from the Assembly of Coloured Citizens of Toronto, Victoria and Queen Street Baptist Church, 11 May 1880
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-16-6
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-16-6_001




“Re[solved] That the Death of the Hon George Brown, Late Senator of Canada, has caused another vacancy in the ranks of the noble and disinterested Champions of Freedom which can never be filled and that we recognise that loss with the deepest and most heartfelt feelings of sorrow and regret, knowing that the Sumner of Canada has passed away ….”

Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
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Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-2-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-2-1_001
[Page 1]

Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
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Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-2-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-2-1_002, F21-2-2-1_003
[Page 2 & 3]

Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
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Letter from C.J. Nelson (Anne’s sister) to Anne Brown, 21 December 1880
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-2-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-2-1_004
[Page 4]




“How pleasant, as you say, to look back on 18 years of unbounded happiness [with George] and then to be able to look forward to a happy, happy meeting in that bright world where there are no more partings, where God will wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

-Anne’s sister to Anne, 21 December 1880

Life continued for the Brown family in the years after George’s death. In 1884, Oda travelled to the Rockies via the new Canadian Pacific Railway, then nearing completion. A year later, Maggie and Oda became two of the first five female graduates of the University of Toronto.

Telegraph from Catherine “Oda” Brown to Anne Brown, 18 August 1884
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Telegram from Catherine “Oda” Brown to Anne Brown, 18 August 1884
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-6-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-6-1_001

Margaret Brown, Commencement photograph, ca. 1885
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Margaret Brown, Commencement photograph, ca. 1885
George Brown family fonds
F 21-10-0-18
Archives of Ontario, I0073626

University of Toronto Commencement programme, 10 June 1885
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University of Toronto Commencement programme, 10 June 1885
George Brown family fonds
F 21-8-0-5
Archives of Ontario, F21-8-0-5_002

Anne and her children returned to Scotland by the late 1880s. There, Anne continued to correspond with her Canadian contacts. In this letter, Ontario Premier Oliver Mowat asks Anne why George had declined knighthood. Mowat had recently been offered the honour and ultimately accepted!

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
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Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_005
[Page 1]

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_006, F21-2-12-1_007
[Page 2 & 3]

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_008, F21-2-12-1_009
[Page 4 & 5]

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_010, F21-2-12-1_011
[Page 6 & 7]

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_012, F21-2-12-1_013
[Page 8 & 9]

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
Click to see a larger image

Letter from Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne Brown, 15 June 1892
George Brown family fonds
F 21-2-12-1
Archives of Ontario, F21-2-12-1_014, F21-2-12-1_015
[Page 10 & 11]




"Do you know any of the facts in connection with Mr. Brown’s refusal of Knighthood? When the honor was recently offered to myself, though I appreciated the honor and had no objection of any kind on principle, I was inclined as a matter of political exigency to decline …."

-Hon. Oliver Mowat to Anne, 15 June 1892”

George’s heart was always in Canada. A statue by sculptor Charles Bell Birch, erected at Queen’s Park in 1884 and still standing today, honours George’s political accomplishments.

Statue of George Brown, Queen’s Park, ca. 1884
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Statue of George Brown, Queen’s Park, ca. 1884
George Brown family fonds
F 21-10-0-14
Archives of Ontario, I0073662

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